Nba nerd

Some Bullshit Memes About Height

One of my biggest pet peeves is when announcers, coaches, and journalists make up pure bullshit about player's height. I'll pick two examples. One is Kevin Love, who gets all kinds of shit because he's listed at 6'10" but is "really" 6'8", and JJ Barea. Barea is very short for an NBA player, and if you listen to the other team's broadcast of every Timberwolves game, I'd bet in about 78 of the 82 games, you will hear some variation of this: "Well, he's listed as 6 feet tall, but no way. He's more like five-eight!".

Today, I read this in a Q & A with Flip Saunders:

FS: Oh, the closest guy to that is J.J. But he’s 5-9. But that is something I think Turiaf will bring.

The away team broadcasters I get, but this is annoying because Flip is flat-out lying through his teeth here.

As it happens, I drive down from Seattle and catch the Timberwolves games in Portland quite often. And usually, I stay in the same hotel the Wolves do. Not on purpose; it just happens to be an awesome hotel. I usually arrive around 4-5 pm, and it's not uncommon to catch glimpses of players eating in the restaurant and what not. It is also not uncommon to see them going in and out of the elevators on the way to their bus. Last week, I caught a ride with Evan Turner when I was in town to see Philly play (and I had a brain fart and introduced him to my girlfriend as Hollis Thomopson, because we'd just been talking about Philly's rookies. He was really gracious about it, not even bothering to correct me, and smiling and thanking us for coming down to see the game).

ANYWAY. I've also been in an elevator with J.J. Barea. Stood right next to him. He was on the phone, so I didn't say hi, but I was literally close enough to do the thing where you could put a ruler on both of our heads to see who's taller. And I'm juuuuuust short of 6 feet tall. Yes, barefoot (I'll get to that in a second). Seriously, I am 5'11 3/4" tall. I've measured it precisely. You don't know how damn long I kept measuring as a teenager, hoping for that last little growth spurt to put me over 6 feet. Or maybe you do, if you are like me and you are oh-so-close to that magical-yet-totally-arbitrary dividing line.

And here's the thing: Barea is as tall as I am. If I stare parallel to the ground, I'm staring him right in the eyes. Maybe he's 6 feet tall, maybe not. But it's damn close. I do know that we'd both consider 5'9" folks to be "the short guys". So...yeah, the whole "damn he's small thing" is getting old. We get it, NBA players are tall, and JJ is not. But stop pretending that he's really the same size as Mugsy.

And sure, this was in shoes. We were both in shoes. Of course we were in shoes! Who the hell walks around barefoot in Portland between November and March!? Don't NBA players play basketball in shoes!? This brings me to my next point: we need to stop obsessing about barefoot combine heights.

At his draft combine, Kevin Love measured "only" 6'8 3/4" (barefoot). "Oh NOES", the internet cried, "he's been lying about his height! He's undersized!" Broadcasters cannot stop bringing it up. It is, next to the fact that he's white, one of the reasons he always wins the moronic "does the most with least" award from NBA GMs every year. And it is such horrendous bullshit.

There's two things going on here: 1) Everybody in the NBA plays in their ****ing shoes, and 2) Everybody in the NBA has "lied" about their height because almost every official roster lists the players' height in shoes. How many times do you hear folks saying Kevin Durant is 7 feet tall? Even though he's actually about 6'9"? How many actual 7-footers are in the NBA, without shoes? All that matters is your relative height.

If Love's not really 6'10" but 6'8.75" then this would only matter if he were the only player in the whole NBA whose official height is exaggerated.  If all the other 6'10" guys are listing their height "in shoes" as well than this means he's about the same size. If the 7 footers are "only" 6'10.5" then it means that he's about 2 inches smaller....just like he would be if he were 6'10" and they were 7'! I acknowledge that there will be some players whose hieght is listed exactly correctly...but they aren't the rule.

And these are just the guys I read about a lot; I'm sure there are plenty of other examples from fans of other teams. Am I the only one who gets upset at this kind of lazy reporting?